THE Federal Government yesterday explained that its decision to have a low-key 51st Independence Anniversary does not have any link with the security challenges confronting the country.
Minister of Information. Labaran Maku who made the clarification yesterday while addressing State House correspondents, dismissed the reports in some national dailies (not Vanguard) that the low key celebration was as a result of security challenges.
According to him, it was unfortunate and irresponsible, that such reports are coming out, that government fears there might be bomb attack at Eagle Square as being threatened by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
The Minister insisted that government had not always celebrated the independence anniversary in an elaborate way every year, explaining that there will not be lavish celebration this year because of the huge amount expended during Democracy Day (May 29th) and Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary a year ago.
His words, “first of all let me express my disappointment with one of the front page stories in one of the leading Newspapers today in which it claims that the federal government has stepped down celebrations in this year’s anniversary because of “Boko Haram Scare”.
“Nigeria belongs to all of us, we must put the interest of this country first. The President has just signed the Freedom of Information Act into Law as the sign of this administration’s commitment to the promotion of the freedom of the Press.
“In the first instance, every Nigerian is aware that even under the Military regime, it is not every anniversary that this nation has to celebrate with Military parade. I know that under this dispensation, as a former Commissioner, I know that in several years, we never celebrated Independence with Military parade where school children will come out and engage in march past.
“But particularly for this year, the federal government decided there will be no ceremonies. In the past one year, Nigeria was fifty years last year and there was a huge celebration as we never did before after 1960. This country particularly at the federal level we celebrated massively with full military parade we never saw since our child hood days because last year was a special one for us.
“So, the government decided to pay attention to celebrate the achievements of Nigeria, in the last 50 years. Immediately after, we also had a huge inauguration celebration we had the same in virtually in all the 36 states, on May 29th several world leaders were here to witness the event. They were also here when we turned 50. These were huge celebrations that cost huge resources to organise.
“And so it was in the wisdom of the federal government that this year’s celebration will be low-keyed. This is so that when Nigeria clocks 100 years in 2014, we will now have a full scale centenary celebration of our country”.
Maku therefore, urged the media to give priority to national interest in their reportage, saying the reports give impression to foreigners that “Nigeria is so scared”.
He spike further, “we are appealing to every one of us to exercise minimum national interest in the exercise of our right to write our stories. I want to make it very clear here that the fact that this independence is low keyed has nothing to do with fear of Boko Haram or any insecurity”.